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Heavyweights team up for Crossrail civils work

British and Continental contracting giants were this week scrambling to form partnerhsips which would win them lucrative Crossrail contracts.

Many of the consortiums are pinning their hopes on the revival of successful partnerships formed for the construction of the High Speed 1 (HS1) rail link between London and the Channel Tunnel.

Other HS1 contractors were hoping to form partnerships with firms who had worked on different parts of the high speed line. Heavyweights Costain, Skanska, Bam, Kier, Balfour Beatty and Morgan Est are all in teams with extensive HS1 experience.

Joining forces

This week it was confirmed that Costain is teaming up with Skanska − bringing their separate HS1 experiences together. They have also joined forces with German tunnelling specialist Bilfinger Berger.

Meanwhile Kier and Dutch giant Bam have said they plan to resurrect their HS1 joint venture (JV), which built the twin tunnels between Barking and Dagenham. Spanish firm Ferrovial has been brought into the JV, bringing with it experience of deep station work on Spanish metro schemes.

“Although essentially it’s a partnership between Bam, Ferrovial and Kier it is likely that we will bring in expertise of the other [Bam] companies.”

Spokesman for Bam

“Ferrovial brings with it a lot of experience on prestigious rail projects in Spain as well as having a well-established presence in the UK,” said a Bam spokesman. “And although essentially it’s a partnership between Bam, Ferrovial and Kier it is likely that we will bring in expertise of the other [Bam] companies.

“For example, it may well be that we bring in Wayss und Freytag for its tunnelling experience.”

These JVs formed hot on the heels of the creation of BBVM JV, the first contracting group to declare its intention to bid for major Crossrail contracts. BBVM comprises Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est, German tunnelling contractor Beton-und Monierbau and French giant Vinci Construction.

BBVM partners cite recent experiences on King’s Cross ticket halls, the East London Line Extension, Docklands Light Railway (and Woolwich Arsenal station extension), Heathrow Terminal 5 rail and road tunnels, A3 Hindhead Tunnel and the HS1 North Downs Tunnel among their qualifications for Crossrail work.

Hoping to meet demands

BBVM bid director Peter Mason said the team hoped to meet demands for “technical and resource capability” while understanding local issues and the requirements of the key stakeholders.

Specialist geotechnical contractors Bachy Soletanche, Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering and Morgan Est Piling will benefit from an extended partnership with the JV if its bid wins out. J Murphy and Hochtief are said to be considering a joint bid for Crossrail work, having worked together on HS1.

Tender notices for two of the three tunnelling contracts went out late last month. The biggest tunnelling contracts are expected to get started from early next year. These contracts account for a massive 18km of the 21km of twin bore tunnels that will run beneath central London. They will be worth around 4% of the total £15.9bn project cost.

“The EIB has provided us with a billion more reasons to proceed with Crossrail.”

Boris Johnson, London mayor

Funding got a boost this week when Transport for London announced it had secured a £1bn loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) − one of the largest loans awarded to a transport scheme.

“The EIB has provided us with a billion more reasons to proceed with the unstoppable force that is Crossrail,” said London mayor Boris Johnson.

The £1bn loan will be part of Transport for London’s core contribution to the project. Station construction contracts are also expected to attract the big contractors. With the exception of Canary Wharf, the main station construction contracts are due to start on site early next year.

Laing O’Rourke has already started work on Canary Wharf station and said it was still considering who to team up with when bidding for other contracts. A source said it was likely the contractor would pursue external partnerships, although Laing O’Rourke is using its subsidiary Expanded Piling at Canary Wharf.

Geotechnical specialist Keller told NCE that it was bidding for work at Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street stations with German construction and manufacturing giant Bauer.

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